Saturday, May 28, 2016

AN ORDINARY MORNING



I've just tossed out scoops of cracked corn for the paired Canada geese who call this stretch of river home. At the moment the birds are standing on a gravel bar fifty yards upstream…but I've alerted them with a wave and whistle. They won't exactly come when I call, but the irresistible notion has now been implanted. In a few minutes they'll float downstream and climb up the bank for breakfast.

I've also deposited a bit of corn between the cracks in the deck's planks for the little gray vole—"meadow mouse" to some, though technically they're not mice, but a mouse relative—who lives somewhere underneath. Voles have short tails, rotund bodies, and small rounded ears. I think they're cute, though Myladylove disagrees. At any rate I try and feed the little creature regularly, with a thought to keeping it safe by helping minimize its exposure to stalking cats and aerial-attacking hawks.

The great blue heron has been wading about the big riffle in front of the cottage, trying to provide for its own morning meal. So far I haven't witnessed any fishing success—but then I've not been watching all that much, and it doesn't take but a moment for the bird to nail a minnow and have it summarily swallowed.

As usual there's a plethora of squirrels at the feeders. Seven as best I can tell, though possibly more—they're hard to count, being busytailed blobs of perpetual energy.  

A female red-bellied woodpecker is investigating the rotting stump I keep for a seed holder near the front door. Red-bellieds, downies, and pileateds are all abundant here, and at least one or two will be part of the feeder crowd practically every minute of any day.          

I'm getting ready to head to Lowe's for a couple of boxes of deck screws to finish off a couple more benches for the yard. Last week I built a picnic table plus two unattached benches for my daughter—though they're yet to be delivered. But I was so pleased with the benches that went with her table that I decided I'd modify the design a bit and build three or four along the same lines to scatter around the yard. I'm always looking for a handy place to sit and watch the river. 

That's about it so far as a riverbank report goes. An ordinary morning. The temperature is supposed to climb to 85˚F today, with possible showers this afternoon. More summer than spring. But nice weather for this Memorial Day weekend.        

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

SPRING UNCERTAIN



The calendar claims spring has sprung. I'm beginning to wonder.

Yes, the grass is lush and green. Birds are singing. Fish are biting. And here along the river, throughout the corridor woods, the trees' verdant canopy of supple new leaves is already well on its way to filling out.

But yesterday morning we woke up to a heavy frost. One of those scrape-your-windshield deals that lasted until well after sunrise. And many of the perky garden flowers, so bright and colorful the day before, were now dispirited, sadly wilted, with more than a few fatally smitten by the night's unseasonably low temperature. 

It was a plain chilly 34˚F when I got up at 5:30 a.m. And while we received only frost, folks in the northern part of Ohio had an unwelcome dose of snow! 

Egads! Thank God there's still plenty of firewood remaining. At this rate we may be burning the stove until July.    
__________

Saturday, May 7, 2016

HANGING AROUND



It's been a rather bumpy road lately.

I had a colonoscopy a week ago this past Thursday. They did remove a couple of pre-cancerous polyps. But that's no big deal. Drinking the vile pre-procedure prep solution was really the worst part—especially since I had to chug-a-lug the second half-gallon starting at 3:00 a.m.

On Saturday night, a violent thunderstorm came through. The next morning we arose to find a power surge had zipped up the cable and fried both the modem and router. No TV or Internet. Bummer. 

Sunday, Myladylove did a Women's Wellness Walk for breast cancer awareness, I bought mulch, and later we worked in the yard. The daytime high approached 80˚F! I fixed steaks on the grill for supper and we ate on the deck and watched the river, birds and sunset.   

Monday morning I began bleeding. A lot. I called my gastro doc who'd done the colonoscopy. He suggested I go to a nearby lab and have blood levels checked. If the bleeding didn't stop, another colonoscopy was in the offing. 

Oh, joy.

Tuesday, still bleeding. Another blood check. Levels definitely dropping. Because I take blood thinners, which I'd been off before the surgery, but restarted after, my doc wanted to give me two days off again before the now definite surgery, scheduled for Thursday morning. 

Tuesday evening, still bleeding, feeling pretty weak, I have another blood levels check—down another point!—and after again conferring with my doc, decide I'd better check into the hospital. Myladylove drives and we head to the E.R. There, I have a new blood levels check, a CAT scan, and a few other things. Not quite to the point of needing a transfusion, but heading that way. "You can spend tonight, tomorrow, and tomorrow night here, we'll monitor your blood levels, and you can have your procedure…or you can spend the time at home, pay attention to how you feel, do your prep tomorrow, and always head back here if you get to feeling worse—lightheaded, trouble thinking—or if the bleeding increases. A bit of a risk, but not much. Your call."

In spite of the fact it was midnight, Myladylove and I returned home, which is only a very short drive from the hospital.

Wednesday I sat around, read, bled, drank clear liquids, didn't watch TV or browse the Internet, and choked down another gallon of disgusting prep concoction.

Thursday I had another colonoscopy. Bleeder was located and cauterized. Everything went fine. I understand why Michael Jackson liked propofol, it is a delightful—albeit potentially deadly—anesthesia.

Bottom line (nope, no pun intended) I'm doing fine. No further bleeding, though I haven't yet restarted blood thinners. But I feel great and yesterday I traded the old fried modem for a replacement, bought the latest and greatest AirPort Extreme router from the local Apple store as my new Wi-Fi base, rerouted the cable line, installed and set up the hardware, and…ta-da!…have returned to the digital folds. About time, too, as Myladylove was exhibiting worrisome withdrawal symptoms.

A bumpy road, for sure—but not all bad.
           

Thursday, April 28, 2016

SUNSHINE, SHOWERS, THUNDER























Apparently this is going to be one of those on-again, off-again weather days—dark, cloudy and looking like rain one minute, only to turn sunny and bright the next. The wind is gusting and I regularly hear not-too-distant thunder rumbling. But so far only a single brief drizzle has fallen. 

None of which is a complaint. It's April, and this is typical spring weather here in southwest Ohio. I actually rather like moody and mixed days. Though such capriciousness is playing havoc with the cutting and fitting of materials needed for a little bit of remodeling I'd hoped to finish on the kitchen today. 

Because I have no garage, carport, or even a shed big enough to serve as a workshop area, the back of the pickup is stuffed with plywood, 2x4s, and similar building materials and serves as my rolling "lumberyard." The tailgate is a makeshift workbench. And I must set up any power tools—drill, sander, circular or saber saw, along with the sawhorses—out in the open…which means I have to keep an eye on the sky and be quick get things into the dry should I think it's about to rain.

Unhandy, frustrating, and more than a little risky given the price of good power tools—especially given my tendency to become focused on the task at hand and oblivious of my surroundings. There's a better than even chance I'll forget to pay attention and stuff will get wet. I have no illusions when it comes to my propensity for distraction… 
___         

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

SUNLIGHT AND HOSTAS


Recent warm weather and the occasional rain has really popped the hostas. Their leafy green clumps have shot up like magic. Some are already well over a foot high.

The photo was made a few days ago, just as the late-afternoon sun was starting to sink behind the tops of the tall sycamores on the island across from the cottage. Myladylove and I were sprawled in our pair of deckside rockers. Tired and fairly bummed. After working all day on various kitchen remodeling details, we'd come to the joint conclusion neither of us liked the paint color we'd chosen and just applied to one wall. We'd now have to buy something else and do the job over.

Looking around, I noticed how low-angled sunlight glowed through the semi-translucent leaves of a nearby hosta and made a couple of casual shots…click, click. Frankly the image turned out way better than I expected. Simple, straightforward, compositionally strong.

Wish I was even half this pleased with the kitchen wall.

………   
   




Sunday, April 24, 2016

RIVER FOG WITH REDBIRD





















It's chilly out this morning, 39˚F as I write, though predicted to warm considerably by midday. The sun is bright and the sky a high, cloudless blue. Because the temperature of the air above the river is cooler than that of the water, a silky veil of fog has been created—soft, ethereal, lovely. I decided to make a photo or two before the rising sun burned this temporary overlay away. 

That red bit in the upper center of the image is a male cardinal who was singing loudly the whole time I stood on the deck fiddling with the camera. 

I saw him sitting there, heard him of course (you can't NOT hear a redbird singing 20 feet away!) but never thought to include the bird in my photo. Guess my pre-coffee brain couldn't handle dealing with multiple compositional elements. That he ended up in the shot anyway was only by accident. 

Alas, no artistic decision was employed…just dumb luck. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

AGE & BEAUTY


Age and beauty. The more you attain of the first, the greater amount of help you'll need to retain the second. Just ask anyone in the cosmetics industry. Or last year's hottest fashion model. 

Closer to home…if that flaming conflagration of birthday cake candles now sets off the smoke alarm, all you gotta do to dissuade yourself from thinking you're immune from the process is to take a long honest look in the mirror. Though not something I'd recommend if you're already on antidepressants. 

Time always wins in the end—even with cheese and wine. The highest mountains eventually yield. Still, being past-your-prime doesn't inevitably mean a spontaneous loss of beauty. 

Earlier this morning an aged dandelion bloom caught my eye. The bright yellow flower head had gone to seed. The remaining fluff ball had lost the majority of it silky-white "parachutes," which looked not only sparse but a bit damp from the dew.  

Hmmmm…

I've gone to seed. Turned rather white on top. And lost a worrisome number of parachutes to life's prevailing winds. Moreover, I've lately been avoiding mirrors except to shave—and I then tend to look a bit sparse and damp myself.

I can't decide if there's a message here…or whether I want to know.